DENVER —** There's a first time for everything.
On Tuesday, Dekoda Watson elected to do more than just thank donors at the Drive for Life XIX, the 19th annual Denver Broncos Community Blood Drive with Bonfils Blood Center. The linebacker decided he was going to join donors and give blood himself for the first time.
"One, I've never done it before. Two, I'm an organ donor. Three, I said that I was afraid of needles but I get two IVs a week," outside linebacker Dekoda Watson said. "So, it's time to grow up and do what you need to do."
He joined countless attendees to help contribute 1,378 donations through Colorado's largest single-day community blood drive. Over the last 18 years, approximately 34,500 donors have donated blood to support more than 103,500 patients.
Watson kicked off the 19th annual Drive for Life campaign two weeks ago by attending a VIP dinner for Bonfils Blood Center donors, answering questions and familiarizing himself with the organization's purpose.
On Tuesday, the Broncos hosted their 19th annual Bonfils Blood Center Denver Broncos Community Blood Drive, Colorado's largest single-day community blood drive. (Photos by Caroline Deisley)
"He came out to our VIP event that we held a couple of weeks ago," Bonfils representative Julia Scott said. "I think he really got to hear about our mission of saving lives through blood donation. Hopefully, that inspired him to make that choice to give blood today."
It was an easy decision for Watson after he looked around the room and saw it full of people contributing their part to ensure blood donation centers fill their quota for lifesaving donations.
"It's phenomenal. They're not thinking about themselves. They're thinking about somebody else, somebody that they may not even meet for the rest of their lives," Watson said. "That's how I think about it. I can be a blessing to other people even if I'm not in the same proximity as they are."
Watson wasn't the only Bronco to participate in Tuesday's event. Twenty-four active members of the team showed up for a few hours each throughout the day to thank donors and mingle with fans.
"That's the best part of Drive for Life. We can't offer a player at every blood drive or donor center," Scott said. "So, this is really a unique opportunity for our donors and Broncos fans to get that face time that they would not normally get."
"You hear so many great stories of lives being saved from donating. Just seeing everyone's commitment as a community and Broncos Country, it's just overwhelming in a good way," rookie safety Justin Simmons added. "It fills your heart and makes you want to be a part of something like this more often."